Sitting down with a new Stone Barrington novel is like nestling into your favorite recliner to watch the latest James Bond flick. You know the charismatic playboy at the heart of the franchise will capture the hearts of sexy damsels, outwit the bad guys and will always look great doing both. Yet you still can't wait to see him in action. That's the vibe you'll get when you read Stuart Woods latest, Paris Match.

Putnam

With Ann stuck in Washington D.C. helping get the next president of the United States elected, she and Stone have taken a break from their relationship. The timing is great, even if Stone is a bit bummed by the circumstances, because he has to venture to Paris to open his new hotel.

Upon his arrival, however, Stone quickly learns that some of his old foes still want him dead, and it is obvious that they feel the city of light is the perfect place to do away with him. Stone attempts to take the events in stride, but it is difficult when a curvy Parisian dress designer turns his head and their budding romance is interrupted with gunfire.

The international scenes in Paris Match are delightfully drawn, and it is obvious Woods has a real affinity for France, as he does an exceptionally good job using its landscape as means to propel this novel. He also has a knack for navigating both the affluent and working class circles of society, and makes us wish we could sail down the Seine while sipping champagne.

Everything about Paris Match is fun, from the breezy storyline to the charming characters. This latest addition to the Barrington series is delightful, and readers will hate when this story comes to its heart-racing, satisfying conclusion.

PARIS MATCH
By Stuart Woods
311 pp. Putnam. $26.95.